How to Deal with Getting Your Period for the First Time

Getting your period is an exciting milestone, but it can also be kind of scary. Don’t freak out—here’s what you need to know.

You will need

  • Basic knowledge of the female body
  • Some thin maxi pads
  • pantiliners
  • or tampons
  • An extra pair of underwear

Step 1 Know the basics Somewhere between 8 and 14, you’ll start to go through puberty, a process where your body matures. If you’re a girl, part of puberty is getting your period, also known as menstruation. Once a month, your uterus will shed a mix of blood and tissue that will exit your body through your vagina. On average, a period lasts for 3 to 7 days each month.

Step 2 Understand the cycle Each month, your ovaries release an egg that travels through your fallopian tubes to your uterus. While this is happening, the lining of your uterus thickens. If a sperm fertilizes the egg, it can attach itself to that thickened lining and begin to grow into a baby. If the egg isn’t fertilized, there’s no need for the extra lining, so your body sheds it.

Step 3 Watch for physical signs Be on the lookout for physical signs. If you’ve started developing breasts, curves, & pubic hair, your period isn’t far away. In the days leading up to it, you might start experiencing discomfort: stomach cramps, nausea, diarrhea, constipation, fatigue, bloating, headaches, or mood swings. These are all completely normal symptoms of premenstrual syndrome, or PMS, and may also continue during your period.

Step 4 Get some supplies Once you have an inkling the big event is on its way, start carrying some thin maxi pads, pantiliners, or tampons—and a spare pair of underwear—with you wherever you go.

Step 5 Know how to recognize it When your period finally arrives, it may be a lot less dramatic than you expected. You’ll probably see some light spotting—just a few drops of blood—or a brown stain in your underwear.

Step 6 Avoid swimming Unless you use tampons, avoid swimming. Maxi pads are designed to absorb liquid, so they swell like a balloon the minute they hit the ocean or pool.

Step 7 Talk to someone Don’t hesitate to get any lingering questions answered by talking to someone you’re comfortable with. Your mom, a close female friend or relative, a school nurse or counselor, or even one of your parents’ friends can provide great help and guidance.